Art of Bada Shanren offers window on his times

Updated: 2015-11-11 08:26

(China Daily)

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Art of Bada Shanren offers window on his times

The Bada Shanren Memorial Museum in suburban Nanchang in Jiangxi province houses a rich collection of the legendary painter's works and a portrait of the artist (right), painted by a good friend.[Photo by Shi Xiaofeng/China Daily]

A descendant of the Ming imperial clan who first became a Buddhist monk and then a Taoist priest, Bada Shanren represents both an intriguing life story and a unique art style that inspired generations of artists who followed him.

Visiting the place where he once dwelled as a Taoist priest, we are able both to find some clues of the master painter's vicissitudes in life and appreciate some of his best art.

The Bada Shanren Memorial Museum sits quietly in suburban Nanchang in Jiangxi province. The site is tranquil in a natural setting, including a lotus pond, plenty of ancient trees and bamboo groves.

Adapted from a former Taoist temple called Qingyunpu and opened in 1959, the museum was the first one in China to be dedicated solely to an ancient painter.

The temple has basically maintained its look since the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Its symmetrical layout features three main halls, which are connected by quiet corridors.

Some of the horizontal inscribed boards and couplets within are in Bada Shanren's calligraphy style. In the halls, some copied works of Bada Shanren and his younger brother are displayed, too.

Meanwhile, more than 100 pieces of Bada Shanren's calligraphy are delicately carved on stones along the corridors.

An enlarged copy of Bada Shanren's portrait, painted by a good friend and clearly cherished by him with many of his inscriptions, is the most eye-catching item for us.

Looking at the thin face of the old man wearing a bamboo hat, we start to imagine how Bada Shanren lived for years and created a large number of works after he arrived.

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